From the 7th through the 10th centuries, the Christian Cappadocians were under siege from Arab raiders. They took refuge in about 40 underground cities. These were cities in the truest sense, some stretching as deep as 20 stories below the surface and able to accommodate as many as 20.000 people. Each had dormitories, dining halls, swage disposal systems, vinery and air ventilation chimneys as well as cemetery. Large millstones sealed off the entrances from enemies. Who actually build these cities is a mystery. Some exhibit traces of Hittite settlements. The Greek historian Xenophon mentions Cappadocian underground dwellings as early as 401 BC. The Christians probably expended what they found; certainly the cities took centuries to complete.
Underground City Of Derinkuyu
This underground city was out of rock below the district of Derinkuyu. The entrance to the city is not far from the present town of Derinkuyu. A steep, narrow passage with cutout steps leads down to successive floors beneath the ground. Some sections of this long tunnel are so narrow that a person can pass through only with great difficulty. Small chambers branch off the main tunnel on both sides. Millstone shaped doors, which rolled into place in time of danger lie at the entrance to these chambers. A large chapel is found on the lowest level. This is cruciform in plan with a narthex before the nave. In an adjacent chamber are an airshaft and a well filled with water. This whole underground complex seems to have been made as a bolthole and for defence purposes.
Underground City Of Kaymakli
This curious underground city is to be found in the town of Kaymakli, 20 km. From Nevsehir. The city was carved out of the rock below the town and around it in the rock outcrops. The plan is quite different from that of Derinkuyu. It is a warren of different levels and clusters of number of chambers, stores and a number of chapels and shrines. The cambers are generally clustered around a hall. Some chambers containing funerary daises and niches. There are 8 levels in all, cut in tothe rock where suitable. Care was taken to ensure that when cutting through the layers each floor would maintain structural stability, with ceilings and floors being carved out deftly. Each section or cluster is centred an airshaft. Tunnels linking the various clusters and levels could be cut off with huge millstone bolt doors seen from time to time. The chambers are approximately 2 metres in height. The chapels and shrines on some amphora shaped dug out holes placed along the walls of some rooms, these holes being daubed on the inside to seal them. They were probably used for grain storage. This underground city an important dwelling system probably created in the 6th to 10th centuries to protect the city from possible attack.
Underground city of Tatlarin
Tatlarin underground city which is located 10 km north of the Acıgol and Tatlarin was one of the most important underground city of the Cappadocia region, could only be discovered in 1975and it was opened to the visits of tourists in 1991. The toilet in it demonstrates that toilets were being used in Anatolia around 3000 years ago. There are many food storage areas and churches within it. It is believed to have been used as a center for religious or military purposes judging by the large size of its rooms. Only two floors of the Tatlarin underground city which has spread over a pretty large area can be visited currently, however works continue to open the other floors to visits as well. Although there is a large number of churches around and within the Tatlarin underground city which is near the Acigöl district of the Nevþehir province a major part of them have collapsed due to natural causes.